Closet Clean Out

Despite my best intentions, it seems like some part of the house always becomes the dumping ground for things that have no official home, like the island of misfit toys. My closet had become one of those places. Closets are extremely vulnerable to this phenomenon for a variety of reasons: they can be dark, awkward spaces; their only purpose is to hold crap; and until you need to get something out, it’s easy to just keep cramming things in on top. These issues, plus my hoarding of craft supplies led to the mess you see here:


Yes, that’s a Millenium Falcon on the floor.


You can see I do label boxes, so I know what’s in there, and I attempted to utilize wall space by hanging a purse on the left.
Those are some of my dresses on the right. They didn’t have a real place to hang, and would come out wrinkled constantly.


Not a whole lot different, except there’s a dresser in here now!


My work clothes hang just the right height above the dresser, and I added a vintage fruit hanging basket (far left) for belts, scarves, bras, and other weird pieces of clothing that defy normal storage methods.


The amount of clothes has been reduced a BUNCH.  I thought very seriously about whether or not I would ever wear something. Even if it was cute, was it comfortable? Did I like how it fit me? There were several items that didn’t fit this criteria, and were culled. Dresses now have their own long space to the right of the shoe bag.


Craft supplies got further reduced, and some specific projects were moved elsewhere (a story for another day). My laundry basket has a home, that is not the middle of the floor! And it also doubles as a cat bed for our cranky cat. The projects I’m working on now will hopefully reduce the needed storage even further, but that of course takes time.

Hubby also had a RUTHLESS clean out of his closet (completely his idea!). His was so crammed with clothes we were running out of hangers. He filled THREE garbage bags to go to Goodwill! He had a variety of old t-shirts and free shirts he’d accumulated that just didn’t fit him comfortably or well, and now they’re GONE. I am so proud! He’s down to maybe 20 t-shirts, 5 dress shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, and 3 pairs of shorts. I wish I could reduce mine that much, but while I’m pregnant is not the time to make clothing decisions. His closet is sparse and amazing!

Want to clean out your closet? Here are a couple tips:

1) It helps to be in the mood, if you can (if you have a deadline, or will use “I’m not in the mood” as an excuse to procrastinate, then no, this is not for you). I like to watch Hoarders or Fight Club before or during a big cleaning job, as motivation.

2) If one big purge won’t work for you (for time, medical, or attention reasons), keep an empty box or bag in or near your closet. Every time you try something on, or just see something that you know for sure you no longer want, throw it in the box. When the box if full, take it to Goodwill and start a new one. This is also a good method for things you aren’t sure about: put them in the box, and if you haven’t needed them in the time it took to fill the box, you probably don’t need them. I often forget what I even put in the box in the first place, which shows how little I cared about it to start with.

3) If you want to do a big purge, plan your whole day around it. Get up, have a good solid breakfast, and have beverages and caffeine available in your work area. Have all your supplies, like a trash can, donation boxes, sharpees, and masking tape easily at hand. Have music, movies, or podcasts ready to motivate you.

4) Don’t just rip everything out of the closet; down that road, madness lies. For me, it’s much easier to work a section at a time, for instance, take down all the boxes on the top shelf and sort through them first, then put back what’s staying so it’s out of your way. That way if you get to a point where you can’t continue, due to an emergency, or because cleaning is giving you rage fits, you are never far from a stopping point that won’t leave your whole room destroyed.

5) Start with the worst things first, when you have the most motivation. If you can sort through your sticker collection from Elementary school that you’ve been ignoring for a DECADE, you can sort through anything. Having the part you dread the most over with is hugely motivating, also.

6) Be realistic. You haven’t worn that shirt in 5 years, do you really love it that much? Even if you do, if it’s shrunk, or stained, or faded, do you love the shirt now, or how it used to be? If you found this item at the store, would you buy it? Do you actually like it, or do you have negative emotions attached to it? “It was so expensive!” or “Aunt Sally gave it to me”, or “I never lost enough weight to fit back into it” are all negative reasons to keep things. You’re only reliving bad memories every time you see it. Purge it, and those demons with it! Save yourself the emotional energy for something important!

7) If you can’t decide which clothes to get rid of, move all your clothes (if possible) to one location, say one half of the closet. As you wear, wash, and put away clothes over the next few months, put them in the other half of the closet. After awhile, you’ll see which ones you actually wear, and which you can safely purge.

8) Truly get RID of things. Once your old crap is in a box and you’ve decided you don’t want it anymore, seriously get rid of it. “But Aunt Sally might need a new lamp!” you say. Well, Aunt Sally lives 4 states away, and you haven’t seen her in 4 years. Aunt Sally will never know what she’s missing, and I doubt she’s sitting at home in the dark, pining for you to spend more money on gas than the lamp ever cost to drive it over to her. Give it to a thrift store, and someone who needs the lamp will acquire the lamp. That’s the whole point of the store’s existence. (Family heirlooms obviously get special treatment).

9) Store the stuff you need to access most in the easiest to reach place, or store things near where they’ll be used.

10) Make sure things are easy to retrieve AND put away. If you have to dig through a stack of boxes to dig out what you need, you’ll never put it away properly, then it will just become clutter again.

I still have a ways to go, but no house is cleaned in a day. Be mindful of every item in your house. Do you have it there because it makes you happy, or because it’s just always been there? Being honest with yourself will be a huge help.


September 12, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . House Stuff.


  1. Black replied:

    Awww…is somebody nesting?

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      Hubby even cleaned his computer keyboard! So I’d say yeah, nesting pretty hard! 🙂

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